Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 4, 2002
God places us in Jerusalem
Evangelist encourages Strathcona Christians to engage in mission
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Christians are in mission no matter where they are, not just overseas, says an evangelical Lutheran pastor.
"You are in mission whether it is here or whether it is overseas and for most of us it'll be over here," pastor Karl Keller told an ecumenical congregation Oct. 28. "I believe that we all have our own Jerusalem in the area in which God has placed us. Where we live, that's our Jerusalem."
Keller, director of the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement and pastor at Langley, B.C., was the guest speaker at the annual Strathcona County Ecumenical Mission Oct. 27-30. He led 10 sessions on prayer, vision and mission at churches throughout the county. More than 200 people attended the event's opening worship service Oct. 27 at Bethel Lutheran Church.
Speaking before 46 Christians at St. John's Lutheran Church Oct. 28, Keller, who has done mission work in Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa, defined mission as doing God's will wherever one is.
"We usually think of mission only in other lands but forget that we can also be in mission right here at home," he said, adding Christians are in mission when they pray for their pastor, help their neighbour and encourage children and youth.
One way of doing ministry in mission fields is for lay people to go for a three-week period, Keller said. "They will find that they will never be the same when they come back."
But Christians can also be in mission at home. "One way is to encourage other people's children because sometimes mom and dad can only say so much and after that we need other people," he said.
"On Sunday you put your hand on their shoulder and say, 'I'm so glad you are here, you know you are such an encouragement to be here in church on Sunday and it encourages me to see you here. Thank you for being here.' That's being in mission in helping (children and teenagers) see that they are important here."
Some 15 years ago Keller asked a friend of his to talk to his son Tim, who was then a teenager. "It made such an impact on him. And that's why we need each other in the Church, to help one another, to provide encouragement."
He spoke of a lady who did mission work for 14 years while sick in bed. "She could pray. She prayed for 14 years. She was a tremendous force in that congregation because of her prayers."
Keller challenged his audience to do ministry by praying for their pastors, their families and the parish staff. "If that priest, for example, is not able to do his work effectively in his parish that's going to affect the mission out in the field too."
Keller praised the organizers of the Strathcona Ecumenical Mission for keeping the event going for 13 years. "It takes dedication from leaders and lay people," he said. "That's why it's still here, because leaders and lay people care."
Deirdre Bonnet, an Anglican, has been attending the mission for three years. She attended the session at St. John's Lutheran, some 11 km east of Sherwood Park, to get encouragement from other Christians and to get a grounding in her faith.
She said she may consider doing some mission work overseas with her children in the future. But for now she will continue her mission work in Sherwood Park, where she lives.
"To me that means going out and trying to live a life of faith, treating others with respect and helping other people to improve their lives," she said.
Patty Marler, of Partridge Hill United Church, a country church halfway between Ardrossan and Fort Saskatchewan, attended the mission for the first time with her three small children.
"I came because sharing the Word of God is very important to me and to be a more effective disciple of Christ is a goal of mine," she said. "And worshipping with members of other Christian denominations is a wonderful way of learning from other people."
Marler was impressed by Keller's suggestion that parents spend time overseas with their children doing mission work.
She may also consider overseas mission work in the future but for now she will concentrate on being a missionary right where she lives, touching people who don't have a relationship with Christ in her own community.
Rhonda Trelenberg, a member of St. John's Lutheran, enjoys being around the table with other Christians. "It reminds you of Christ and his disciples sitting around the table together. I'm sure Jesus would be very pleased to see all these denominations sitting around on behalf of him and his name and in his home. That's what it's all about."